Both warring parties have yet to implement the UN-brokered plan to pull out forces from inside and around the city since the deal went into force on Dec. 18, 2018. (Xinhua/Mohammed Mohammed)
ADEN, Yemen, March 5 (Xinhua) -- The Saudi-backed Yemeni government said in an official statement on Tuesday that it will not accept handing over the management of Hodeidah province to a "neutral authority."
In a statement published through the Foreign Ministry, the government reaffirmed its legitimate right to manage all the facilities in Hodeidah following the withdrawal of the Houthi rebels from the city as declared in Stockholm's deal.
The government's statement came in reaction to previous remarks made by the British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt after his first official visit to the southern port city of Aden.
Hunt said during a media interview that Houthis had suggested handing over Hodeidah to "a neutral control" following their withdrawal for fear of military advancement by government forces toward the city.
"All the Yemeni laws along with the international resolutions enshrine the exclusive right of the government in running the affairs of the country and extending control over all the country's sovereign territory, including Hodeidah," said the government's statement.
The government said also Stockholm Agreement stipulates that "Hodeidah's authority (after the Houthi withdrawal) should remain in the hands of the security forces as per the Yemeni law" and that Hunt's talk about "neutral control" is an odd interpretation of that agreement.
The statement concluded that the task of the international community is to "implement Stockholm Agreement, not to interpret it in contradiction to its content and look for inapplicable solutions."
On Monday, Yemen's Houthi rebels reacted to Hunt's remarks and accused the British government of seeking to derail a fragile peace deal in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.
"We do not consider Britain as a mediator in the Yemeni peace talks," Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam said in his Twitter account in response to remarks made a day earlier by Hunt.
Abdulsalam added that "it also appeared that the UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths was representing his British government more than representing the UN."
Speaking from the southern port city of Aden, Hunt warned on Sunday that peace process in Yemen faces the last chance and could die in weeks if Stockholm deal was not fully implemented.
The peace deal intended to avert fighting in Hodeidah, the key lifeline for two thirds of Yemen's population, which the UN says is on the brink of famine.
Both warring parties have yet to implement the UN-brokered plan to pull out forces from inside and around the city since the deal went into force on Dec. 18, 2018.
Saudi Arabia is leading an Arab military coalition that intervened in Yemen in March 2015 to support the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi after Houthi rebels forced him into exile and seized much of the country's north, including the capital Sanaa and Hodeidah.